We chose this because of the itinerary. It really was an intensive look at Cuba, with three days in Havana, a day in Cienfuegos and an additional overnight plus a day in Santiago de Cuba. In Havana the cruise terminal is right in the old city so walking off the ship to explore on our own was easy. I can recommend the rum museum in the old Havana Club, which is two blocks from the ship. Taxis were readily available, and the hop-on-hop-off bus even stops right outside the terminal. In each port currency exchanges were available in or next to the terminal. The shore excursions were very well planned and organized, with good guides. We particularly enjoyed a trip from Santiago de Cuba into the mountains. We visited a small village where we saw a major basilica and enjoyed a performance by an excellent steel drum band that had performed for the pope. We also visited San Juan Hill and sites important to the Castro Revolution and had a nice lunch in an elegant restaurant associated with Havana's Tropicana. There was a very interesting lecturer on board providing background on many aspects of Cuban history and culture. We were uncertain what to expect in Cuba, but came back very pleasantly impressed.
Every Azamara cruise has an "Azamazing evening", a free local entertainment experience. On this cruise we had an evening at the Heredia theatre in Santiago de Cuba with welcome mojitos, local vendors, and some wonderful musical performances culminating in an example of the local festival parade. Really good.
We have sailed Azamara (both the Quest and the Journey) before and appreciate the small size and the extraordinary crew--truly the nicest people on the ocean. The people at the guest relations desk are always helpful and patient. Every staff member you pass in the hall greets you with a smile. Within two days the bartenders know your drinks. It's the kind of personalized service that makes you want to stowaway and stay on board at the end of cruise.
The food matches the quality of other higher end lines. There were two special meals. One was the Easter brunch, served buffet style in the dining room with several cooking stations and beautiful pastry and chocolate decorations. The other was the traditional "white night"; a buffet served on deck with the upper level crew doing much of the cooking and serving. In a nod to our location this one included a number of Cuban dishes including a suckling pig. Every evening there was a cocktail hour with tapas and music in the "living room", a nice way to relax and prepare for dinner.
The entertainment was varied: a troupe doing short plays, a singer, a pianist, etc. They no longer had a song and dance cast, which we sometimes missed. Every evening a variety of music could be found around the ship for listening or dancing.
We do not use the spa services or sports activities so I can't comment on them.
The only negative is the fact that the cabins are small and the bathrooms are small. There is plenty of storage, and a veranda makes the living space larger. Of course a small ship will have fewer on board activities, smaller scale entertainment and fewer dining venues than a larger ship, but it compensates with convenience and comfort. There is a sense of intimacy which adds to a relaxing vacation.
The cabins are smaller than you would find on larger ships, but pleasant and well cared for with more storage than we have found in some other ships. Beds are comfortable and the blackout curtains really work. The veranda also makes the cabin feel larger than it is.